*NEWS*GLOBAL WARMING PACT TAKES EFFECT
*NEWS*GLOBAL WARMING PACT TAKES EFFECT
2005-02-16 at 10:50:00 am #10297Global Warming Pact Takes EffectBut Absence of U.S. Will Limit Effort to Cut Greenhouse
KYOTO, Japan (Feb. 16/05)-The Kyoto global
warming pact went into force Wednesday, seven years after it was negotiated,
imposing limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases scientists blame
for rising world temperatures, melting glaciers and rising oceans.
The landmark agreement, negotiated in Japan’s
ancient capital of Kyoto in 1997 and ratified by 140 nations, targets carbon
dioxide and five other gases that can trap heat in the atmosphere, and are
believed to be behind rising global temperatures that many scientists say are
disrupting weather patterns.
The United States, the world’s largest emitter of
such gases, has refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm the
economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging
economies China and India.
”We have been calling on the United States to
join. But the country that is the world’s biggest emitter has not joined yet,
and that is regrettable,” Japan’s top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, told reporters.
Environmental officials, gathered in the
convention hall where the accord was adopted, hailed the protocol as a historic
first step in the battle against global warming and urged the world to further
strengthen safeguards against greenhouse gases.
”Today is a day of celebration and also a day to
renew our resolve … to combat global warming,” said Hiroshi Ohki, former
Japanese environment minister and president of the conference that negotiated
Australia, the only other developed nation
besides the United States not to join, defended that decision, with Environment
Minister Ian Campbell saying the country was nonetheless on track to cut
emissions by 30 percent.
”Until such time as the major polluters of the
world including the United States and China are made part of the Kyoto regime,
it is next to useless and indeed harmful for a country such as Australia to sign
up,” Australian Prime Minister John Howard said in Canberra.
The Kyoto agreement was delayed by the
requirement that countries accounting for 55 percent of the world’s emissions
must ratify it. That goal was reached last year – nearly seven years after the
pact was negotiated – with Russia’s approval.
In Japan, a tireless supporter of the pact, the
enactment was being met with a mixture of pride and worry that the world’s
second-largest economy is unprepared to meet its emissions reduction
Japan planned to celebrate the enactment
Wednesday at the convention hall where the accord was negotiated in December
1997, with speeches and a panel discussion among environmental experts and
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan planned to send
a message. The Kyoto pact is an adjunct to the 1992 U.N. treaty on climate
The Kyoto targets vary by region: The European
Union is committed to cutting emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012;
the United States agreed to a 7 percent reduction before President Bush
denounced the pact in 2001.
That proposal was opposed by the U.S. Senate so
adamantly that the protocol was never submitted for ratification by
then-President Bill Clinton. Bush then pulled the United States out of the pact
in March 2001, less than three months after taking office, saying the Kyoto pact
would have cost far too much and exacerbated an already bothersome energy
problem for the world’s largest consumer of energy from fossil fuels such as
coal and petroleum.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said
Tuesday that ”we are still learning” about the science of climate change. In
the meantime, McClellan said, ”We have made an unprecedented commitment to
reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that continues to grow
The Bush administration’s stance has since drawn
fire from environmental experts, who say it is ignoring scientific consensus
about global warming, and that government reports have been censoring views not
in line with its politics.
Japan is struggling to find ways to meet its
obligations. A report this month by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
showed that 11 of 30 top Japanese industries – steel and power among them –
risked failing to reach targets unless they take drastic steps.
Officials made solemn pledges Tuesday to fulfill
Japan’s treaty requirement to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by
6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The Cabinet will draw up concrete plans by May,
Environment Minister Yuriko Koike said.
Some officials are pondering a ”carbon tax” to
punish polluters – a move opposed by business – while others favor expansion of
nuclear power and promotion of energy-saving technologies.
Japan also has been especially active in carbon
trading – a system under which governments have allocated carbon dioxide quotas
to industrial facilities. Those which emit less gas can sell the ”credit” to
other companies who emit too much.
Makoto Katagiri, whose Natsource Japan is acting
as a credit broker between Japanese and foreign companies, estimated in a study
for the World Bank that Japan bought 41 percent of the carbon credits on the
international market last year.
”From this figure, you can imagine how serious
the Japanese companies (are),” Katagiri said.Campaigners target US over KyotoProtesters have marched in London in support of the
Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on emissions coming into force on
Police said about 500 people had marched to the United States
embassy, carrying flags of the 136 countries that have ratified the treaty.
The US, the world’s largest polluter, withdrew from the treaty
in 2001, citing economic concerns.
The protocol, agreed in 1997, sets legally-binding emissions
Nearly 180 nations have signed up, but some have not yet
formally ratified it.
The coming into force of the Kyoto
Protocol is something to be celebrated
Phil Thornhill, Campaign Against
It binds industrialised nations to reduce worldwide emissions of
greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below their 1990 levels over the next
The treaty nearly stalled after the US, which created 36% of
emissions in 1990, pulled out.
The protocol needed to be ratified by countries who were
responsible for at least 55% of the world’s carbon emissions in 1990 to come
into force. However, in 2004 Russia agreed to sign up, allowing that requirement
to be met.
Phil Thornhill, of the Campaign Against Climate Change, which
organised the march, said: “We want to express just how aghast we are the US is
not joining the rest of the world.
“Scientists say we have about 10 years to save the environment,
we really have to change the rate at which we act.”
Green MEP Caroline Lucas said it was time to get tough with
“By refusing to sign up to Kyoto, the US is demonstrating – yet
again – that it is a rogue state pursuing its perceived national self-interest
to the exclusion of the peoples of the rest of the world.
“This is unacceptable and the world community must now look at
ways of holding the US accountable for damage its isolationist policies are
inflicting on the rest of the world,” she added.
Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: “We are here to
protest against the Bush administration and celebrate the fact Kyoto will come
into force this week, despite the Bush administration trying its hardest to kill
The US is correct in
its decision of continuing to innovate and invest in new technologies that can
bring us to a cleaner and more efficient future
Lib Dems environment spokesman Norman Baker told the crowd it
was “appalling” only 3% of energy in the UK came from renewable sources.
But Kendra Okonski of the International Policy Network, said the
US was taking the right route.
“Kyoto is a very bad investment, because it is very costly today
and only brings benefits far in the future.
“The US is correct in its decision of continuing to innovate and
invest in new technologies that can bring us to a cleaner and more efficient
future, for the whole world not just for the US or Europe.”
In Edinburgh, campaigners held a “climate carnival” to highlight
the effects of global warming.
Police said about 25 protesters turned out.
Some were dressed as mosquitoes, which they say are being found
further north as climate change takes effect.